I know this will come as a surprise to all of you, but I was not born wise or well informed. I blush to think of some of the behaviors in which I indulged, and the ideas that I held, when I was younger.
When I was a very little girl, I picked up from the secular people surrounding me the idea that there is no God. Not only did I refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, although I was scared enough of the teacher that I still moved my lips, I also thought all believers were fools. I held to this belief for many, many years.
After reading Gone With The Wind for the first time, when I was 11, I came away with the impression that slavery wasn’t really such a bad thing, as long as you treated your slaves nicely. It took me a while to shake this belief too, especially because it seemed to me that the way many American blacks lived, whether in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunters’ Point, LA’s Watts and South Central, or Michigan’s Detroit, wasn’t a great improvement over the life of a slave. The concept of freedom, versus mere material welfare, eluded me.
At around the same time, as a child who grew up watching the Vietnam War on the news, as well as all the antiwar protests, I thought the American military was evil, and that Communists weren’t so bad.
When I was 17, and California voters pass Prop. 13, I thought it was outrageous that people should want to keep their own money when it could go to the government, which would spend it for the people’s own good, only it would do it better.
When I was 18, I voted for Jimmy Carter and was deeply saddened when he lost.
Read the whole thing here. Bookworm goes on to detail her own background before transitioning to her reading of O’Donnell’s development.
It’s all pretty thoughtful but I do quibble slightly, though:
When O’Donnell hit Christianity, she hit it hard, taking a lot of extreme positions (masturbation being the one that has the Left most atwitter) — which is normal for a convert. The zealots usually come from the recently converted, the ones who still have enthusiasm and who also feel that extremism is an act of repentance. She’s had financial problems, too, although that leaves her in good company, since it seems that this is a common trait in federal employees.
When I hit Christianity as a teenager I hit it hard too, also taking a fair number of what could be considered “extreme” positions. (Foremost among them was that if one had to accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior then that meant that at least 75% of the world was hellbound — probably far more — and that I had to dedicate as many of my waking hours as possible for letting God use me to try and convert people.) I no longer embrace these religious views but like to think I have some halfway meaningful grasp of the thinking of those who still do — or in O’Donnel’s case, once did.
O’Donnell’s Christianity from 13 years ago seems to be in the same neighborhood as mine. And the fact of the matter is that if one embraces a literalist Christianity — in which one takes the New Testament at basically face value as the divinely inspired word of God — then it’s really difficult to arrive at a position on lust, masturbation, and pornography any different than the one O’Donnell expresses in those videos that terrify Talking Points Memo. Jesus is pretty clear in the gospels: looking at a woman lustfully is no different than actually committing adultery with her.
O’Donnell’s position that follows from that isn’t “extreme” it’s just serious. She took her religion seriously and actually tried to do what the Bible says.
And you know what? I don’t really have a problem with that in the slightest. Good for her. What business is it of anyone’s? In the past I’ve described myself as a “counterculture conservative” — a theme I intend to continue to develop and explain. The sexually modest views of late ’90s O’Donnell and the Christian conservatives should simply be regarded as just another counterculture trying to find the best way for human beings to live their lives. They’re just one more experiment playing out in the mass mind.
As long as there’s no attempt to use the force of government to try and enforce such mores and they’re taken on willingly then they’re as worthy of respect as any other counterculture.